Interior Design Focus
This week I got to do a photo shoot at the home of a Fort Worth interior designer. She and her business partner where there with me during the shoot to provide some guidance as to what they wanted to capture. In this case they were promoting their Christmas decoration services, so the home was all made up for Christmas (way early, but they need to be earlier to advertise). This was a great opportunity for me to learn to see a room as a designer does. I figure if I can produce an image that a designer is happy with then it should be good enough for anyone else. I mean really, who else looks at a picture of a room and thinks "That chair is too far to the left."? I tend to only see the room that way when it is too late (after the photo shoot is done). So this shoot allowed me to just slow down and focus on setting up in one spot and working until that view looks right. Now, I really mean getting it to look right. There are things that look right in the room in person but look really odd through the camera. On another home shoot I have moved a row of chairs that were even spaced when standing behind them but looked way off from an angle. Those are the things it takes to create a well-constructed and staged image.
A lot of the images I got from this shoot were just close-ups of some of the decorations, and they just let me get those however I wanted. But there were 2 main views of the dining room that took a lot of work to stage well. I learned somethings from having a designer evaluating my images on the spot (hooked up to my tablet for immediate viewing). I also got to put some things into practice that I have read about or been studying. It was nice to take a test shot and realize that an area needed more light and be able to do it. Hey, maybe I am getting the hang of this (with still a long way to go).
So, I wanted to put together this post to show you some of the places where I got to do just that.
View number one was the main view they wanted. This angle let them see the dining room setting, the decorations on the service table and the decorations on the mantel reflected in the mirror. I am going to start off by showing you my first test shot. You can see that the fireplace is much darker than the rest of the image. It's not the main focus but it should be bright enough to be more evident.
In this shot you can see that there is much more light in the background. This is better, but the final image still needed a lot of work.
This is the final shot. I backed up to get more of the tree on the right and more of the light fixture. I also lowered the camera to get more of the table. We moved the chair that was between the dining table and the service table. We also moved the chair in the living room to allow the fire to be seen. We also moved the candle and replaced it with the flower arrangement. Finally, we took a framed picture off the wall on the right hand side because you could only see half of the picture in the reflection which made it look like the picture disappeared into the Christmas tree. Overall, I think the final version is a much stronger image.
The second view was from the opposite side of the dining room. The challenge was to not let the lights look "blown out" (so bright that there is no detail). Fortunately they were on dimmers, so we turned them down really low. That was great for the lights themselves, but it caused the details at the back of the room to be too dark.
I added some flash using an shoot-through umbrella to get some light on the chairs, the serving table, under the dining table, and on the place settings and flowers. The difference is subtle, but it is enough to lighten up those dark areas without looking unnatural.
This was a portrait orientation of the same view. The problem I had was that the bottom of the chairs and under the table were not getting enough light. So, I shot one of umbrella flashes under the table to remove those areas that are too dark and draw unwanted attention. The test shot is on the left, and the shot with the fill-in flash is on the right.
This next view was another case where the background area needed a bit of work to keep it from being a distraction. I tried the light 3 different ways: hall light on (left), hall light off (center), and low level of flash (right). I used the third one so that the the background was not too bright so that it washed out the flowers and not too dark so that it was a big dark blob.
And finally (thanks for sticking around), this is my last example. I liked this view of the place setting with the Christmas tree in the background. I shot this one a little differently than the others. I focused on the Foreground and really blurred out the background. I liked how it looked, but I felt like the place setting and the flowers were too dark since they were the focus. Again, on the left you can see my test shot. On the right you can see the difference in bringing in some extra light from above to highlight the plates and napkin, the flowers and add some sparkle to the crystal. Again, subtle, but I think it was worth it.
There you have it. So far, this has been my biggest learning experience in a home shoot.
Here are more of the shots if you are interested.
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Keywords: Christmas, Christmas decorating, Christmas decorations, Design, Fort Worth interior design, Holiday, Holiday decorating, Holiday decorations, Home interior, Interior design, Interior designer, SAJ Designs
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